Six sharp raps at the door. Tivick scrambled to switch off the porn playing on one of the motel’s twenty-one channels. He zipped up, and went to answer it. There was the girl he’d picked up that morning, a soft moan escaping her lips. His eyes dropped from her doe-browns to the blood spreading like a Rorschach on her Disney t-shirt. He waved her in and caught her as she stumbled shy of the single queen. Her horse-tail braid got trapped as he grabbed her yanking her head back. She made a choking sound, but he got her onto the mattress and began to lift the T to examine the wound. She feebly pushed away his hands.
He ignored her. Three of the five staples holding the incision together had pulled out. Blood oozed like cold maple syrup, pulsing with her heartbeat.
Geezus, what a mess.
He knew of the wound. As soon as her thumb had dropped, her backpack thrown in the back seat and her skinny ass had seated itself into his dark sedan, she’d been proud to reveal her bandage of sacrifice. Twenty-four hours prior she’d been in Philly donating a kidney to her father who’d not spoken to her since her arrest at seventeen for solicitation.
When the anesthesia faded like the ebbing tide, she’d popped all the oxy the nurse would give her and slapped bare footed down the hospital hallway to see her father. The look he gave her crushed the heart-candy she’d been saving for him these last six years.
You? They said your bother had come to donate. I’ve got your kidney inside me? Fuck.
When he turned away, she grit her teeth and walked out. The nurses became preoccupied with some freeway pileup so she dressed, grabbed the towels from the bathroom, slipped down the stairs and started hitching her way back west. With her looks, the Johns and Toms were eager to give her a lift.
After twenty minutes of story, driving in heavy rain outside Oklahoma City, Tivick held up his hand. Enough.
Sit and shut up, for now, he told her. I’ve got my own issues grindin’ like broken glass in my mind. I don’t need yours, too.
There on the bed, the girl thrown down like a discarded mannequin, Tivick couldn’t help but recall the other scenes etched in his brain bearing details so similar they made his throat clench. She needed medical, but there was no way he could get wrapped up in another incident like this.
By Colorado Springs, he couldn’t shut her up. Her story included the shitty treatment she’d received at the hands of the Santa Barbara model agency where she worked as a make-up assistant. She went on to describe the apartment she shared with a heroin addict and the tirade of promises and threats delivered by the junkie’s dealer.
We make sly green with that set ‘o struts and that sweet ass. Just have a lil’ taste.
Tivick dialed emergency from the motel’s phone, donned his shirt and shoes and grabbed his duffel. He’d rented her a room three down from his. He dropped his key on the dresser and grabbed hers from her pocket where he found her phone. Regretting each tap, he primed her contacts with his own.
Tivick. What a strange name. Kinda strong, kinda weird. Matches your face.
Thanks, I suppose. Maize. That’s a name pretty much before your time. Hell, my time, too. How’d you come by such a name?
Wasn’t long before he’d wished he hadn’t asked.
When the ambulance arrived he fingered the curtains from the other room hoping that they’d treat her right. The guilt throbbed in his chest, but less this time.
In the morning he resumed his journey.
Three months later, another sharp rap at the door. Same damn six knocks, two, two, two. His heart took a tiny leap. His mind, on the other hand, gave a groan.